New year, new decade, New Year’s resolutions. It’s January and as always after the festive period the rush for the gym starts again. In some random Scottish gym a pretty famous newbie got spotted hitting the facilities. None other than Scottish Mountain and Trials Bike legend Danny MacAskill entered his local gym and made good use of the setup. As you might expect Danny’s approach on fitness and exercise is a little different to the average gym member. Good for us that he teamed up with Red Bull and his friends from Cut Media who recorded his workout laps for documentation. Make sure to lean back, hit the play button and enjoy Danny’s first project in 2020
HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) has swept the fitness world in recent years and the workouts are now a staple of gym classes and home training routines. HIIT workouts are recognised as a way of burning a lot of calories in a short amount of time, so it’s easy to see why they are a favourite of time-poor gym-goers looking to squeeze the most out of their training. But HIIT needn’t be limited to weight-based activities and gym sessions, the benefits can be felt for time-crunched cyclists, too. Here’s everything you need to know about high intensity interval training, the benefits and how you can include HIIT in your training plan. What is High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)? A HIIT workout intersperses short intervals of exercise at an effort level close to maximum with periods of recovery. When applied to cycling, there is no one set way to perform a HIIT workout, with different routines offering different benefits. “The duration of efforts could be from a couple of seconds up to a minute or more,” explains Matt Rowe of Rowe & King Cycle Coaching. “There’s no real hard or fast definition of it other than you’ve got to be cycling hard and with great intensity on and off. “You can make it as structured or unstructured as you like. Fartlek training is seemingly random efforts, and that’s a form of HIIT training.” 60 minute turbo training sessions for time-crunched riders High intensity interval training has become extremely popular in recent years. Simon Bromley What are the benefits of HIIT? One of the biggest benefits of a HIIT workout is the short amount of time it takes. “It allows you to accumulate a lot of high quality work at that top end and really maximises the bang for your buck from any training session,” says Dr David Nichols, cycle training consultant for Wattbike. Most sessions can be done in an hour or less and are easy to do on the turbo trainer, so you can squeeze a ride in with long-lasting benefits from the comfort of your own home. “If you’re time poor, you’ve got to be smart with what you do have,” says Matt Bottrill of Matt Bottrill Performance Coaching. It’s possible to see a tangible training benefit from a session as short as 30 or 40 minutes, according to Bottrill, but he warns against over-reliance on HIIT workouts. “You can’t do it every day,” he says. “It’s not feasibly possible because you can’t hit that high intensity.” HIIT workouts can also help you to better target the top-end training that might otherwise be missing from your rides. “When you go out cycling, most people ride steady and they think they’re going quite hard,” says Rowe. “But you’re not really engaging your fast twitch muscle fibres that much. “The fast twitch fibres can make all the difference in cycling. If you need to get up a climb and use a big surge in effort, that’s your fast twitch fibres that you’re relying on. HIIT training does that perfectly.” Because HIIT intervals are short, they enable you to accumulate a lot of time at an intensity above what you’d otherwise be able to sustain in continuous blocks. That, in turn, helps improve your VO2 max and threshold power, according to Nichols. “Say you do four blocks of five minute intervals, you could be doing 20 minutes well above what you could do in a straight 20-minute block,” he says. Indoor cycling benefits | 8 reasons why you should train indoors What are the drawbacks of HIIT? While high intensity interval training is time-efficient and provides plenty of bang for your buck, it isn’t a miracle session that can simply replace all of the other workouts in your training plan. Due to the nature of HIIT workouts, you need to be able to train at extremely high intensities during each session, and therefore need to recover properly between workouts. “There’s no point in doing a top end training session if you go into it so fatigued that you can’t reach the top end – you just end up training in that middle ground,” explains Nichols. “By incorporating HIIT, you’ve got to be a bit smarter – are you going to have a rest day before it? What is your training session going to look like after that? You can’t just keep periodically smashing yourself.” Nichols recommends a maximum of three HIIT sessions a week – ideally two – otherwise you risk overtraining. “You can have too much of a good thing,” he adds. If you do decide to add HIIT workouts to your training, Rowe says it’s important to not neglect the rest of your riding. “If you purely do HIIT training, you’re going to struggle with your endurance because it’s all about short, sharp efforts,” he says. Bottrill agrees, adding that you still need to be logging the miles to see the true benefits of HIIT workouts translated on the road. “You’ve still got to do that endurance base,” he says. He also recommends keeping HIIT to a limited phase of a training block because of how mentally challenging sessions can be. “The hardest bit is your head,” he says. “The sessions take a lot out of you. You can find it very hard to then complete the next session. If you’re going to do that type of training, you’d probably want to build a six week phase of it. Any more and you can’t go as deep mentally.” Base training for cyclists: myth or must-do? HIIT workouts can take place indoors or outdoors, though the turbo trainer is most convenient. Robert Smith/Immediate Media Indoors or outdoors? While HIIT training can be done both indoors or outdoors on the open road, all the coaches we spoke to leaned towards an indoor setting on a turbo trainer or smart bike. “I personally prefer to do it indoors,” says Nichols. “It’s convenient, setup ready to go and there’s no time wasting. Doing it outdoors can negate the time effectiveness of HIIT.” If you do opt to train outside though, Bottrill recommends planning a circuit that is either flat or uphill. “You don’t want it to be too undulating and you want to control the environment,” he says. “That’s where a hill comes good – you can ascend a climb that’s 3-4 minutes and then recover on the descent.” Rowe adds that it’s also possible to turn your commute into a HIIT workout, albeit an unstructured fartlek-style session: “Maybe as part of your commute, you could sprint to a sign post and do seemingly random efforts like that.” Best smart trainer: top-rated turbo trainers How can I include HIIT in my training plan? As we’ve already covered, it’s possible to have too much of a good thing with high intensity interval training, so it’s recommended to have a maximum of two sessions per week interspersed with longer endurance rides to really see the benefits. However, for riders who can only squeeze in a short session around other commitments, Rowe would always recommend a HIIT workout. “A well-rounded training plan touches on all different attributes,” he says. “Sweetspot sessions are great, but at least once a week you should be doing some top-end work. The frequency at which you do it is very personal, but in the winter you have to do whatever you can in the amount of time you’ve got. “If you’ve only got 40 minutes to train, in that 40 minutes you might as well ride hard so HIIT works for that.” The fatigue-inducing nature of HIIT workouts makes it advisable to plan your sessions in advance to avoid overtraining. Nichols recommends scheduling your HIIT sessions around easy or rest days, and using a weekend ride to work on your endurance. “A ride at the weekend is going to be your long endurance ride, maybe a club run,” he says. “Outside of that, you can do two midweek interval sessions. These are your absolute high effort, high intensity training sessions. “If that’s Tuesday and Thursday, you’re going to have Monday and Wednesday easy because you’ve got to schedule that recovery in. There’s no point in doing those HIIT workouts fatigued.” 5 steps to create the perfect winter training plan Two example HIIT workouts for cyclists Matt Rowe’s HIIT pyramid Each ‘on’ interval should be in zone five if you train with a power meter. Rowe recommends doing 1, 1.5 or 2 pyramids, depending on how much time you have. 10-minute warm up 10 seconds on (zone 5)50 seconds off (zone 1) 20 seconds on (zone 5)40 seconds off (zone 1) 30 seconds on (zone 5)30 seconds off (zone 1) 40 seconds on (zone 5)20 seconds off (zone 1) 50 seconds on (zone 5)10 seconds off (zone 1) 60 seconds on (zone 5)60 seconds off (zone 1) 50 seconds on (zone 5)10 seconds off (zone 1) 40 seconds on (zone 5)20 seconds off (zone 1) 30 seconds on (zone 5)30 seconds off (zone 1) 20 seconds on (zone 5)40 seconds off (zone 1) 10 seconds on (zone 5)50 seconds off (zone 1) 5-minute cool down Dr David Nichols’ 5×5 While the intervals here are longer than a typical HIIT session, Nichols describes this workout as “an absolute classic that all WorldTour riders are doing”. If you want to increase the difficulty further, he recommends ‘preloading’ the VO2 intervals. “Rather than doing a consistent five-minute interval at VO2 max, you could start the first minute exceptionally hard – harder than you want to be going,” he says. “Digging really deep at the start and almost hanging on is a really great way of getting you up to VO2 max sooner.” 10-minute warm-up5 minutes at VO2 max power (110–120% of FTP)5-minute recovery (zone one, total recovery)(repeat five times)5-minute cool down
The 2020 Scott mountain bike range from is diverse and packed with goodies, with a whole host of top-class options for all disciplines. Whether you ride World Cup XC or just want a decent, simple bike to start hitting singletrack on, Scott has you covered. We’ve rounded up the most interesting bikes from the range. Scott says the 2020 range is the “most complete MTB product range to date”, and that the bikes have been “inspired and influenced by Scott’s pro athletes and team”. Scott says this experience and feedback filters through the entire range, affecting every model. As is to be expected, the prices are definitely at the higher end of the spectrum, but lower price point models in each range offer options for those on a tighter budget. We are currently waiting on US pricing and will update this article once we have it. Best mountain bike 2019: how to choose the right one for you Scott bikes: latest reviews, news and buying advice 2020 Scott Scale range overview The Scale is Scott’s World Cup-winning hardtail cross-country bike. This is a lightning-fast bike made for pounding XC laps at the highest level — or just for going flat-out around your local singletrack. Scott says the frame is “lightweight, stiff [and] fast” and “one of the world’s lightest carbon frames”. Joe’s Scott Scale 900 WC long-term review Scott Scale RC 900 AXS World Cup The Scott Scale RC900 AXS World Cup is the top-end Scale. Scott The Scale RC 900 is the most bling Scale build available. The bike features wireless SRAM AXS shifting, a three-position remote lock-out lever for the RockShox SID Ultimate fork and plenty of other top-of-the-range components. Frame: Scott Scale RC (Race Concept) Carbon Drivetrain: SRAM XX1 Eagle AXS Fork: RockShox SID Ultimate RLC3 Air Wheels: Syncros Silverton 1.0 carbon-fibre Tyres: Maxxis Rekon Race, 2.25″ Brakes: SRAM Level TLM Handlebar: Syncros Fraser iC SL Carbon Seatpost: Syncros Duncan 1.0 Carbon Saddle: Syncros Belcarra Regular 1.5 Titanium rails Price: £6,199 GBP / €6,799 Scott Scale RC 900 Team The Scale RC 900 Team features the same snappy top-end carbon fibre hardtail frame with a selection of quality products. It’s a gateway into all-out XC racing. Scott Frame: Scott Scale RC (Race Concept) Carbon Drivetrain: SRAM X01 Eagle Fork: RockShox SID Select RL Air Wheels: Syncros Silverton 2.5 Tyres: WTB Ranger, 2.25″ Brakes: Shimano XT M8100 Handlebar: Syncros Fraser 1.5 Alloy Seatpost: Syncros Duncan 1.5 Saddle: Syncros Belcarra Regular 1.5 Titanium rails Price: £2,999 GBP / €2,799 Scott Scale 925 This could be a great option for aspiring racers. Scott The Scale 925 features a more affordable but equally as race-friendly frame paired with Fox and Shimano XT and SLX components. Frame: Scott Scale 3 Carbon Drivetrain: Shimano XT-SLX Fork: FOX 32 Float Rhythm Wheels: Syncros X-25 rims w/Formula hubs Tyres: WTB Ranger, 2.25″ Brakes: Shimano MT501 Handlebar: Syncros Fraser 2.0 Alloy Seatpost: Syncros Duncan 2.0 Saddle: Syncros Belcarra Regular 2.0 CRMO rails Price: £1,999 GBP / €2,199 2020 Scott Spark range overview The 2020 Spark range is a collection of full-suspension carbon cross-country race bikes which have won at the very highest level under Nino Schurter and, in 2019, Kate Courtney too. Olympic and World Championship titles and countless World Cup wins certify this bike’s ability. The bike gets 100mm of suspension travel front and rear and is available in four sizes. Scott Spark RC 900 SL AXS The top-end Spark has an insanely light frame Scott The top-end Scott Spark features a staggeringly light 1,799g Race Concept SL frame, wireless SRAM AXS shifting and Scott’s TwinLoc remote suspension setting/lockout system. Frame: Spark RC Carbon IMP technology HMX SL Drivetrain: SRAM XX1 Eagle AXS Fork: FOX 32 SC Float Factory Air Shock: FOX NUDE EVOL Wheels: Syncros Silverton 1.0 SL CL Tyres: Maxxis Rekon Race, 2.35″ Brakes: Shimano XTR M9100 Handlebar: Syncros Fraser iC SL Carbon Seatpost: Syncros Duncan SL Carbon Saddle: Syncros Belcarra Regular 1.0 Carbon rails Price: £11,000 GBP / €11,999 Scott Spark RC900 Pro Scott The Spark RC900 Pro doesn’t feature wireless shifting, but otherwise, this is a very bling Spark build with Shimano XTR, a RockShox SID fork and Scott’s TwinLoc remote lockout. Frame: Spark RC Carbon IMP technology HMF Drivetrain: Shimano XTR Fork: RockShox SID Select+ RL3 Air Shock: FOX NUDE EVOL Wheels: Syncros Silverton 1.5 CL Tyres: Maxxis Rekon Race, 2.35″ Brakes: Shimano XTR M9100 Handlebar: Syncros Fraser 1.0 Carbon Seatpost: Syncros Duncan 1.0 Carbon Saddle: Syncros Belcarra Regular 1.5 Titanium rails Price: £4,699 GBP / €5,199 Scott Spark RC900 Comp The cheapest Scott Spark is built around an aluminium chassis Scott The lowest price-point Spark RC features an alloy frame and a 110mm travel fork (other models have 100mm), with Scott’s TwinLoc system taking care of remote suspension setting changes. Frame: Spark RC Alloy SL 6011 Drivetrain: SRAM GX Fork: FOX 32 Float Rhythm Shock: FOX Float EVOL Performace Wheels: Syncros Silverton 2.5 Tyres: Maxxis Rekon Race / 2.35″ Brakes: Shimano SLX M7100 Handlebar: Syncros Fraser 2.0 Alloy Seatpost: Syncros Duncan 2.0 Saddle: Syncros Belcarra Regular 2.0 chromoly rails Price: £2,699 GBP / €2,999 2020 Scott Aspect hardtail range overview The Aspect is a range of entry-level hardtails made for everyday off-road riding. They feature 100mm of front suspension travel and a 6061 Alloy frame with luggage mounts. Six sizes ensure a fit for most riders. Scott Aspect 910 The Aspect is Scott’s entry-level hardtail range Scott The Aspect 910 is the top-dog in the Aspect range, featuring a RockShox Silver TK fork with remote lockout control and a SRAM SX Eagle 12-speed drivetrain. Frame: Aspect 900 series, Alloy 6061 Custom Butted Tubing Drivetrain: SRAM SX Eagle 12 Speed Fork: RockShox 30 Silver TK Solo Air Wheels: Syncros X-20 rims w/Formula hubs Tyres: Kenda Booster, 2.4″ Brakes: Shimano BR-MT200 Handlebar: Syncros 3.0 Seatpost: Syncros 3.0 Saddle: Syncros 3.0 Price: £899 GBP / €999 2020 Scott Genius trail mountain bike range overview Scott’s trail platform, the Genius, aims for lightweight shredding ability. As Scott puts it, “the Genius was put on this earth to get you up mountains with ease and to get you back down them in a flash.” Its 29in wheels and 150mm suspension travel front and rear should smooth out all but the biggest of hits. Scott Genius 900 Ultimate AXS The top-end Genius commands quite the price. Scott Wireless SRAM AXS shifting and a full-carbon frame is perhaps to-be-expected at this heady price point. Fox’s Live Valve automatic suspension adjustment system reacts almost instantaneously to switch settings depending on the terrain you encounter. Frame: Genius Carbon IMP technology HMX Drivetrain: SRAM XX1 Eagle AXS Fork: FOX 36 Float Live Valve Factory Air Shock: FOX Float Live Valve EVOL Wheels: Syncros Revelstoke 1.0 CL Tyres: front Maxxis Dissector, 29 x 2.6″; rear Maxxis Rekon 29 x2.6 Brakes: Shimano XTR M9120 4 Piston Handlebar: Syncros Hixon iC SL Carbon Seatpost: FOX Transfer Dropper Remote Saddle: Syncros Tofino 1.0 Regular Carbon rails Price: £10,999 GBP / €11,499 Scott Genius 940 The Genius 940 features an interesting mix of components Scott The Genius 940 is the most interesting alloy-framed Genius. The bike is outfitted with Scott’s proprietary TwinLoc remote suspension adjustment system and an interesting mix of Shimano XT and non-series components. Frame: Genius Alloy SL 6011 custom butted Drivetrain: Shimano XT RD-M8100 SGS Shadow Plus, 12 Speed Fork: FOX 34 Float Performance Air Shock: FOX NUDE T EVOL Wheels: Syncros X-30S rims w/Formula hubs Tyres: front Maxxis Dissector 29×2.6″; rear Maxxis Rekon 29 x2.6 Brakes: Shimano MT520 4 Piston Handlebar: Syncros Hixon 2.0 Alloy Seatpost: Syncros Duncan Dropper 2.0 Remote Saddle: Syncros Tofino 2.0 Regular chromoly rails Price: £3,299 GBP / €3,599 2020 Scott Ransom enduro range overview The Ransom is Scott’s enduro bike, and it’s a popular choice for gravity-leaning riders looking for an all-round bike. A carbon frame with 170mm suspension travel is the basis of this platform, which is both 27.5in and 29in wheel compatible. Scott Ransom 900 Tuned Scott The highest price point Ransom features SRAM X01 Eagle shifting and Scott’s TwinLoc suspension remote with a Fox fork and shock, and curiously, Shimano XT brakes. Frame: Ransom Carbon / IMP technology / HMX Drivetrain: SRAM X01 Eagle 12 Speed Fork: FOX 36 Float Factory Air Shock: FOX NUDE TR EVOL Wheels: Syncros Revelstoke 1.5 Tyres: Front : Maxxis Minion DHF / 2.6″; Rear Maxxis Minion DHF / 2.6″ Brakes: Shimano XT M8120 4 Piston Disc Handlebar: Syncros Hixon iC Rise Carbon Seatpost: FOX Transfer Dropper Remote Saddle: Syncros Comox 1.5 Titanium Rails Price: £6,999 GBP / €7,599 Scott Ransom 930 Scott The alloy-framed Ransom 930 comes at a much lower price point but still features a host of decent components, including a RockShox Yari fork and SRAM SX Eagle shifting. Frame: Ransom Alloy SL 6011 custom butted Drivetrain: SRAM SX / Eagle 12 Speed Fork: RockShox Yari RL Solo Air Shock: X-Fusion NUDE w/TwinLoc Wheels: Syncros X-30S rims w/Shimano hubs Tyres: Maxxis Minion DHF, 2.6″ Brakes: Shimano MT420 Handlebar: Syncros Hixon 1.5 Rise Alloy Seatpost: Syncros Duncan Dropper 2.5 Saddle: Syncros Comox 2.0 chromoly Rails Price: £2,699 GBP / €2,999 2020 Scott electric mountain bike range overview Scott has always been a prominent player in the e-MTB category, and for 2020 its assisted ranges grow stronger, with models across most price points and disciplines. Scott Strike eRide 940 The Strike is Scott’s entry-level e-MTB range Scott The Strike range is part of Scott’s Sport segment of e-MTBs. These bikes are for comfortable off-road cycling for hobbyist riders and feature the latest Bosch e-bike drive system. The Strike eRide 940 is the entry-level model in the range, with an alloy frame, 29-inch wheels, and TwinLoc suspension system with 140mm travel front and rear. Frame: Scott eRide Alloy E-bike drive system: Bosch Performance CX; 500Wh PowerTube Battery Drivetrain: SRAM SX Eagle 12 Speed Fork: RockShox Recon RL Solo Air Shock: X-Fusion NUDE Wheels: Syncros MD30 w/Shimano hubs Tyres: Maxxis Rekon, 29×2.6″ Brakes: Shimano BR-MT420 4 Piston Handlebar: Syncros Hixon 2.0 Rise Alloy Seatpost: Syncros Duncan Dropper 2.5 Saddle: Syncros ER2.5 Price: £2,699 GBP / €2,999 Scott Contessa Genius eRide 910 Contessa is Scott’s women’s-specific range of bikes Scott Contessa is Scott’s women’s brand, and the Genius eRide is its electric mountain bike trail model, with an alloy frame and 29in wheels. Contessa bikes feature women-specific contact points (seat, grips, etc.) and there are three sizes, S-L, available in this Genius eRide 910 model. Other price-point Contessa Genius builds are available. Frame: Contessa Genius eRide alloy E-bike drive system: Bosch Performance CX; 625Wh PowerTube Battery Drivetrain: SRAM SX Eagle 12 Speed Fork: FOX 36 Rhythm Air Shock: FOX Float EVOL Performace TwinLoc Wheels: Syncros X-30S w/Shimano hubs Tyres: front Schwalbe MagicMary 29×2.6″; rear Schwalbe Hans Dampf 29×2.6″ Snake Skin / TL-Easy / Apex / Addix Speedgrip Brakes: Shimano BR-MT420 4 Piston Handlebar: Syncros Hixon 2.0 Alloy Seatpost: Syncros Duncan Dropper 2.5 Saddle: Syncros Savona 2.5 V-Concept Price: £4,499 GBP / €5,199 Scott Genius eRIDE 930 Scott Scott describes its Genius eRide range as having “avant-garde design, cutting edge technologies and integration, and advanced battery management”. The Genius eRide 930 is a high-end trail riding e-MTB with the latest Bosch e-bike technology, 29in wheels and 150mm suspension travel front and rear. Frame: Genius eRIDE Alloy E-bike drive system: Bosch Performance CX; 500Wh PowerTube Battery Drivetrain: SRAM SX Eagle 12 Speed Fork: RockShox 35 Gold RL DebonAir Shock: X-Fusion NUDE Wheels: Syncros X-30S w/Shimano hubs Tyres: front Schwalbe MagicMary 29×2.6″; rear Schwalbe Hans Dampf 29×2.6″ Brakes: Shimano BR-MT420 4 Piston Handlebar: Syncros Hixon 2.0 Alloy Seatpost: Syncros Duncan Dropper 2.5 Saddle: Syncros Tofino 2.5 Regular Price: £3,899 GBP / €4,299
In the world of professional road racing, tubeless tyres remain a novelty. The vast majority of pros ride traditional tubular tyres glued to tubular-specific rims, and while there have been notable instances of pros racing on tubeless, there’s been little evidence of a sea change in attitudes towards tyre technology. Best road bike tyres in 2019: everything you need to know Continental has FINALLY developed a tubeless road tyre — GP 5000 TL first look It feels like we’ve been on the verge of road tubeless going mainstream on the consumer side for years. Every mainstream wheel maker now offers tubeless versions of its wheels and almost every big player in tyres has in some way jumped on board, albeit with varying levels of commitment. This year, however, we’ve seen racers at the highest level of the sport competing on tubeless tyres: Fabio Jakobsen took stage four of the Tour of California and his Deceuninck–Quick-Step team has lined up at a number of races with bikes wearing Specialized’s new tubeless Turbo RapidAir, a tyre first spotted at the Tour Down Under on none other than Peter Sagan’s bike. Alexander Kristoff triumphed at Gent–Wevelgem on tubeless Vittoria Corsa tyres, and a number of his UAE Team Emirates colleagues were riding the same setup at this year’s Tour de France. Several teams seem to be dabbling with the technology, and some have dived in headlong. Elite women’s squad Canyon//SRAM and men’s Continental outfit Canyon dhb p/b Bloor Homes are both racing tubeless, the former on Schwalbe’s newly-revised Pro One, the latter on Maxxis Padrone tubeless tyres. I asked a number of key players in the world of wheels and tyres whether tubeless will replace tubulars in the pro peloton, and the responses I’ve received suggest that while the industry is strongly behind tubeless and believes in the technology, we’re some way from a tipping point in the upper echelons of racing. Standardisation across the industry may change that very quickly, but that remains to be seen. The bodies responsible for overseeing the wheel and tyre industry — ETRTO (European Tyre and Rim Technical Organisation) and ISO (International Organization for Standardization) — are in the process of issuing updates to the regulations governing the sale of tubeless tyres. With potentially greater clarity for consumers and far fewer compatibility issues between different brands of tyre and wheel, this could be a very significant moment for tubeless, paving the way for more widespread adoption of the technology. Thanks go to Continental, Hunt, Mavic, Schwalbe, Specialized, SRAM and Stan’s NoTubes for their assistance in researching this piece. What’s the point of road tubeless anyway? The purported advantages of tubeless are well-trodden ground, with manufacturers claiming lower rolling resistance and citing the convenience of having punctures self-heal when using sealant. Without a tube, pinch flats cease to be an issue, so it’s possible to run lower pressures than you would otherwise, increasing comfort and grip. Tubeless is a bit of a no-brainer for mountain bikes, where pressures are much lower and the risk of pinch flats with tubes is high. Alex Evans Tubeless technology has taken over almost completely in mountain biking, at least in enthusiast circles. Inner tubes aren’t likely to be going anywhere at the lower end of the market where marginal performance gains take second place to everyday simplicity. Tubeless has also made considerable inroads in the worlds of gravel and cyclocross, where tyre widths in the 32 to 50mm range dominate and the advantages remain clear-cut. The case for road tubeless is more nuanced. While the same theoretical advantages apply on the road, it is debatable whether the average rider will realise those advantages. Those who are plagued with punctures or who desperately seek lower pressures have a clear motivation to go tubeless, but if a conventional clincher setup satisfies your everyday riding needs, the case for sloshing sealant around is weaker. Tubeless setup and maintenance can be messy at times, even if you do everything right. Jonny Ashelford / Immediate Media The pitfalls of tubeless gone awry are enough to put many riders off, but the balance could tip in tubeless’ favour if new standards can alleviate concerns over mounting and seating tyres, as well as actual safety. Tubeless really is faster Lower rolling resistance is clearly an advantage that matters to racers, and there seems to be consensus across the industry that the best tubeless tyres really do roll faster than the best tubulars (and the best conventional clinchers). Specialized, for example, claims its newly launched Turbo RapidAir tubeless race tyre saves 2.8w at 40km/h against its tubular counterpart (in lab conditions with a 45kg load, at 7 bar / 101.5psi) while Schwalbe’s new Pro One is claimed to best the Pro One HT tubular by an astonishing 17 watts at the same pressure and the slightly higher speed of 45km/h. (The load wasn’t specified.) Specialized claims its new tubeless tyre is both faster and grippier than a comparable tubular. Specialized And if you head to Bicycle Rolling Resistance and do some side-by-side comparisons, the tubeless options invariably win out. What constitutes an apples-to-apples comparison is a little murky, however; particularly when pitting technologies as fundamentally different to one another as tubulars and tubeless. The construction of the tyres is completely different and indeed tubulars and tubeless tyres of the same nominal width, from the same manufacturer, may measure up quite differently when mounted. There are other variables too. Jan Heine of René Herse Cycles/Bicycle Quarterly — himself a long time proponent of super-supple wide tyres — isn’t anti-tubeless, but he is convinced that the use of sealant in tubeless tyres largely negates the supposed reduction in rolling resistance they offer. Bicycle Rolling Resistance’s Jarno Bierman doesn’t agree. In a report published in 2014, he found that 30ml of sealant in a 25mm road tyre increased rolling resistance by just one watt at 36km/h — a penalty far smaller than the typical advantage tubeless tyres hold over their clincher and tubular counterparts. For what it’s worth, when BikeRadar ran its own performance tyre lab tests with help from Wheel Energy back in 2017, the original tubeless Schwalbe Pro One trounced all of its standard clincher competitors with 25ml of sealant on board. There is one huge caveat to all of this: we’re still talking about a tiny difference in performance here. Rolling resistance matters, but at bike race speeds it’s a small part of the overall picture, with the vast majority of a rider’s energy expended fighting wind resistance. On that front, SRAM’s Geoff Przekop raises an interesting and perhaps rather overlooked point: “We have consistently measured that clinchers [including tubeless] are more aerodynamic than tubulars, starting way back with our Firecrest development more than 10 years ago. “Of course, the specific results will vary depending on the individual rim and tyre designs, but we see very few exceptions to this trend when testing. Specifically, clincher tyres tend to outshine tubular tyres as yaw angle increases above 10 degrees — potentially due to the cleaner transition they exhibit between tyre and rim outer diameter.” Ultimately, a pro’s job is to win races though, so if there’s a real performance gain — however marginal — they’d be a fool not to embrace tubeless, wouldn’t they? Will tubeless replace tubulars in pro racing? Fabio Jakobsen of Deceuninck–Quick-Step won stage four of the 2019 Tour of California on tubeless tyres. Chris Graythen / Getty Images Tubeless tyres have been popping up at races since the mid-2000s. Michelin went so far as to introduce three tubeless road tyres for pro use back in 2004, but it appears the project was shelved because they were never sold to consumers. Along the way, various lower-tier pro teams have ridden tubeless tyres and, much more recently, there have been some notable high-profile victories at the very top of the sport, such as Jakobsen’s win at the 2019 Tour of California on tubeless and Kristoff’s victory at Gent–Wevelgem on 25mm Vittoria Corsa Graphene 2.0 tyres. Kristoff might have gone a little too hard on the Kool-Aid, however. Flying in the face of conventional wisdom, which sees most riders on tyres at least 28mm wide if not bigger, he rather optimistically stuck with the same rubber for Paris–Roubaix and saw his ambitions crushed by a series of unfortunate punctures, a demonstration of the fact that sealant can only do so much. Compared to amateur riders, professional cyclists face a completely different set of pressures when it comes to tyre choice. Mechanical support is available whenever it’s needed in a bike race, but every puncture is a potential race-loser, so reducing the frequency of flats overall is paramount. Alexander Kristoff’s choice of 25mm tubeless tyres proved disastrous at this year’s Paris–Roubaix. The Norwegian suffered three punctures before switching back to tubulars by which point his race was effectively over. Tim de Waele / Getty Images In theory, you can inject sealant into tubular tyres and gain one of the advantages of a tubeless setup. Indeed some teams have certainly done so for puncture-heavy races such as Paris–Roubaix, but tubulars have never been made with sealant in mind. There’s no way to remove dried-out sealant from a tubular and, depending on the precise construction of the tyre, (some have an inner tube, some do not) sealing may be ineffectual anyway. Safety is of course a major concern for pro teams, too — while tubulars are susceptible to rolling off rims if improperly glued, tubeless tyres are liable to blow off the rim if either the tyre or rim is out of spec or damaged. Pro cyclists for the most part tend to err on the side of caution when it comes to equipment choices, at times resisting change. Remember how long it took for pros to use disc brakes? (Many still don’t.) And how, until very recently, the more old-school Euro teams routinely raced on 23mm tyres inflated to approximately one million psi, despite a growing consensus that slightly wider tyres (and slightly lower pressures) might actually be faster in the real world. There’s no question that pros are paying more attention to tubeless, however. According to wheel maker Hunt’s Ollie Gray, the Canyon dhb p/b Bloor Homes Continental team voluntarily moved from an 80:20 tubular:tubeless split in 2017 to being 100 percent tubeless for the 2018 season. He’s realistic about the technology though, acknowledging the fact that riders who puncture seriously on tubeless aren’t able to ride the flat tyre as they would with a tubular because there’s a danger that it might come off the rim. Schwalbe’s Felix Schäfermaier thinks this will soon be less of a concern because tyres conforming to the incoming standards “will stay on [in the event of a puncture]”. Gray also notes that tubulars are still the best option for pro cyclocross racers, but that “for us mere mortals… there are essentially no drawbacks to road tubeless” it’s “the right choice for 99 percent of purposes”. There is a sense that tubulars have peaked, but that’s not to say they’re going anywhere anytime soon. Other than Stan’s NoTubes, the brands I approached all continue to produce tubular wheels or tyres, and some of them are still making incremental improvements to their tubular ranges. On the other hand, Specialized’s Oliver Kiesel and Mavic’s Maxime Brunand are notably frank about where their respective brands’ energies are now focussed. In essence, they say there’s no new investment being made in tubular tech; tubeless is where it’s at. Kiesel is keen to emphasise that the ultimate goal is performance. His goal is not to promote tubeless, it’s to ask “what makes our riders faster?” Continental launched its first tubeless road tyre in 2018, the Grand Prix 5000 TL. Continental All of the brands I asked think that tubeless will become more common in the pro peloton, but even those who are heavily invested in the tech aren’t predicting an immediate takeover. Continental’s Jan-Niklas Jünger believes that rather it will “give [riders] another option” while Schwalbe’s Schäfermaier is more categorical, saying of the pros: “they will change”. Standards are coming One of the biggest hurdles to wider adoption of tubeless road tyres has been a lack of standardisation across the industry, something our then tech ed James Huang lamented as long ago as 2008. While you can generally count on consistent results if you stick within a given brand’s ecosystem (e.g. running Zipp tyres on Zipp rims), there’s no guarantee that a random tubeless road tyre bought in a bike shop will work well with the ‘tubeless-ready’ wheels on your bike. In this context, working well means mounting easily on a rim, seating without undue trauma and remaining on the rim without burping or blowing off in the course of normal riding. When tubeless goes wrong, things can get very messy indeed. Jack Luke All that could be set to change as a major update to ISO 5775 — the international standard which governs bicycle tyre sizing — is due. According to Schwalbe’s Felix Schäfermaier, a new ETRTO standard has already been agreed and issued to manufacturers, with the ISO update expected to follow soon. Major players in the industry have been working together to hammer out a set of definitions and norms that work for everyone and improve the situation for the people actually spending money on wheels and tyres. An established standard is a very significant milestone in the history of road tubeless. (For some insight into the wrangling behind the scenes this has involved, tyre nerds may enjoy this frank open letter penned by Morgan Nicol of Challenge Handmade Tyres earlier this year.) Talk of new standards sometimes provokes rending of garments in the public galleries, but this isn’t some vapourware bottom bracket design or a new axle that’s pointlessly very slightly wider, it’s potentially a fundamental re-writing of the rules that underpin tyre sizing and labelling, and the way that rims are designed to interact with them. Related: You need to embrace your bike industry overlords According to Stan’s President Mike Bush: “the goal of the standards is not to limit innovation but to create common ground with respect to what ‘tubeless’ or ‘tubeless ready’ really mean, how to measure and mark product to ensure compatibility, and generally ensure the end users have safe product to ride. “The current product on the market is often safe and effective but given the myriad ways to approach the problem, not everything works together as it could or should.” It’s clear that road tubeless is here to stay, but seemingly as ever, the takeover remains just over the horizon.